Even with a vicious campaign by several groups fighting for equality of sexes, there are still six principal groups that women are not allowed to participate in, these are in Cannon Artillery, Armor, Combat Engineers, Short-range defense and Infantry (which this paper will be based). For a period spanning more than 4,000 years, women have assumed different roles in the military and even later in the recent war in Iraq they came close to being in combat (Clare, p.7). But they have not been fully integrated with infantry to combat forces. The reason behind this decision is said to be more culturally based than anything. It seems to be a sad scene to see daughters and mothers coming home in body bags…but for men, this can be slightly stomached. Other reasons have been stated as due to military rules which strictly do not give room for gender norming. There is a fear of the possibility of lowering training standards in the military if gender norming is neglected (Adams et al., pp.387-391). The debate on this contentious issue has been dragging for a while between the proponents and the opponents of this course. This essay will analyze the critical issue of whether women should be allowed in the army infantry or not. Both sides of the argument will be highlighted before giving out what will be my position as the final verdict.
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It has been long enough–too much segregation between women and men; the fight to eventually have an equitable situation between men and women was long overdue. Times, when only men were allowed to do more professional and masculine work, while women were left with clerical, stewards and cooks, are long gone. Proponents of this concept argue that denying women to serve fully in the military in whatever department they chose is a sign of sexual discrimination. They add that many countries have women defending their territories effectively in war so successfully that there should be never any doubt of their potential in combat war (Clare, pp.11-13). The proponents give examples of The Soviet Union Military in the Great War, where women took a front line action. They cite the cases of countries like France, Canada, Israel, Norway, Denmark, and New-Zealand, Finland, Germany and Switzerland which have women infantry soldiers. The successes of women in these countries are a clear indication that women can engage in combat and perform equally well (http:cdi.org/issues/women/combat.html)
The individuals under this group state their points clear; they say that the physical training involved in the infantry is too demanding for women. Some even say that putting women in a field that has been traditionally known to be male-dominated will jeopardize the Army’s combat readiness. They explain this by saying that recruiting women in the infantry will bring to runs the effective unit by cohesion and shatters morale…the idea sounds more chauvinistic, but let us weigh options before drawing a final judgment. The presence of women in such a setting will definitely lead to sexual tension where women will look up to men to take up some duties and excuse themselves, simply because they are women. Women have a solid position here; it is true that women do not have equal physical strength like men because their body structures are more or less denser hence more prone to breakages (Campbell, pp.25-26).
The opposes list several other genuine reasons; they claim that women have been created in such a way that they cannot be proficient in handling an aircraft at raised gravitational forces as the norm in combat pilots. Then there is also the issue of psychological concern, researchers have found out that romantic relationship between men and women serving in the same combat battalion will jeopardize the fighting capability of a unit if they are both put at the frontline (Albanese, p.36). Albanese explains that some women may even opt to get pregnant intentionally to avoid combat duties. To make matters worse, the number of times that women have been reported to be in combat shows that women are not sufficiently aggressive enough to kill enemy soldiers; they are so sympathetic and passionate.
There is the issue of tactical concern. The reaction of male soldiers upon seeing a woman solder wounded disrupts completely the laid down mode of combat as compared to a fallen male soldier. Infantrymen will immediately spring into a protective, uncontrollable instinctual aggression to save the fallen female, hence throwing the whole troop into confusion…this may lead to a lost battle. The men will shift their concern from achieving their mission to saving the women. “Men can be programmed to kill, but they cannot be programmed to abandon women” (Abrahamsson, p.14). Another factor that is neither the mistake of women nor men’s infantries is the fact that Islamic militants do not surrender to women soldiers, this makes the combat with women at the forefront hard; so they are better left alone, or kept away from the front line.
It has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that women can hack some of the hardest jobs on earth, but I still take a firm stand by saying that Infantry is not a woman’s thing. My position is not because of some physical inability in women, but simply for their safety. Take an incident where a sexually deprived man has gone psycho (it is said the condition is common in the infantry)…what will be the fate of our fragile women? The outcome would not be so pleasant. Further, a war scenario is just so brutal, traumatizing and horrifying to let our women get exposed to; besides this, there is a high possibility of carnage and rape and women stand high chances of losing if they encounter such. While men only stand a possibility of being tortured and killed, women, on the other hand when captured by the enemies can be sexually molested, hence dealing them severe psychological abuse. This is not to say that I am locking women off from a job, No! It is only drawing to the attention of the womenfolk that there are numerous fields and professions where they can perform best to their full potential without laying at risk their lives. If it has to be in the military, then we have the Mp’s, THT or in the Civil Affairs.
Before fully refuting the idea of women serving in the military, this paper takes us back to the times of World War Two and analyze on the role that woman played during that Great War. The economy was literally left in the hands of women as men were busy killing themselves in an attempt to defend their countries and their interests. If not in the labor force, then it was in nursing and comforting wounded men from the fight. The emotional stress that they underwent and the efficiency by which they held it was superb. It was a clear indication that the contribution of women is vital, but definitely not in combat. They should only be used as support staff to provide intelligence service and moral support. Statistical scholarly revelations in (Campbell, p.27) hold it that women break easily under the pressure of combat; and on top of that, any serious combat calls for endurance and strength which cause women to have limited supply as compared to their male counterpart.
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Even though proponents of the inclusion of women in infantry claim that even women who serve in non-combat operations still get exposed to the same dangers as the men in combat; and so deserve equal opportunities…I do disagree with them, there are a lot more risks in the combat zone than otherwise. But I stand to be corrected because there are steady arguments that some proponents have fronted, for instance, the explanation that denying willing women a chance to serve their country at the infantry, we are depriving the nation of some potential manpower resource that can be very useful. And on top of that, we are creating a military that is treating women as second-degree citizens, unequal to men (Abrahamsson, p.26).
- Abrahamsson, B. Military Professionalization and Political Power. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications.1971 pp.14-26.
- Adams, J. B., Adams, J., Rice, R.W., & Instone, D.. Effects of perceived group effectiveness and group role on attributions of group performance. Journal of Applied Social Psychology.15 (4), 1985 pp.387-398.
- Albanese, R., & Van Fleet, D. Organizational Behavior: A Managerial Viewpoint Hinsdale, Illinois: Dryden Press. 1983 p.36.
- Campbell, D’Ann.Women at War with America: Private Lives in a Patriotic Era. Harvard University Press. 1984 pp.25-27
- Clare E. Micah. The face of Defense: Woman Soldier. American Forces Press Service. 2008 pp.7- 13.